Missed Connections

Missed Connections

by Tamara Mataya

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Overview

"The narrative and dialogue are fast-paced and sassy, and the chemistry between the protagonists is quite sultry.... Readers looking for an escape and a few good chuckles will enjoy this escapade."—RT Book Reviews

You've Got Mail meets The Devil Wears Prada when Sarah can't get sexy—but off-limits—Jack out of her head. Torn between the bad boy she can't keep and a sensitive stranger who bares his soul online, her heart and body are in two very different relationships...or are they?

What should have been a sizzling NYC summer has been hijacked by demanding bosses. To cope, I spend my nights cruising Missed Connections, dreaming of finding an uber-romantic entry all about me. Of course, the moment I finally find that Missed Connection, real life comes crashing down in a night of unbridled passion with totally off-limits Jack.

Best. Hookup. Ever.

Gorgeous and wealthy, hot as sin, Jack can give me everything I need—except an emotional connection. That I get from my Missed Connection, the romantic stranger who never fails to make me swoon. But there's only so much of me to go around. Torn between the bad boy I can't keep and the sensitive stranger who bares his soul online, my heart and body are caught in two very different relationships...or are they?

Summer Love Series:
Missed Connections (Book 1)
Summer Indiscretions (Book 2)



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492621225
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Series: Summer Love , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 966 KB

About the Author

Tamara Mataya is aNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a librarian, and a musician with synaesthesia. Armed with a name tag and a thin veneer of credibility, she takes great delight in recommending books and shushing people. She puts the 'she' in TWSS and the B in LGBTQIA+.

Read an Excerpt

Missed Connections


By Tamara Mataya

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Tamara Mataya
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4926-2122-5


CHAPTER 1

I blot my sweaty palms on my black A-line skirt, feeling horrifically overdressed. The scent of sage and sandalwood hits the back of my throat as I inhale deeply and sneak a glance at the clock on the wall. Fifteen minutes down.

Fern crosses her jegging-clad legs and leans back in the seat. Her dark-chocolate eyes narrow thoughtfully. "Where do you see yourself in five years, Sarah?"

Damn. This is my least favorite question, second only to "What are your weaknesses?" Like anyone truthfully answers either of them. My typical answers would send me shooting up the corporate ladder, but I'm in unfamiliar territory dealing with New Age hippies and the patchouli highway.

I have to answer carefully. "I don't like planning that far in advance because it's too rigid. I think it's better to take things as they come and to stay as flexible in regard to the future as I can. There really isn't a future; there's only now. You know?" Please buy my babbling.

She smiles. "Great answer."

Ziggy nods. "Great answer."

Nailed it! I duck my head and try to look modest but maintain eye contact. New Age hippies are all about meaningful gazes. Should I add a namaste? No, that would be too much. God, I need this job. Even if I didn't have tens of thousands of dollars of student debt to repay, New York's cost of living would cripple me.

Ziggy holds his paper out to Fern and points at something. She nods. He swivels back and forth in his chair, and I try not to stare at his bony knees peeking out from his jean shorts. I also try not to stare at his hair. His salt-and-pepper ponytail wings out above his ears, giving him a sort of wild vibe, like Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick. "What made you want to work here at Inner Space?"

The fact that I got laid off from the law firm six weeks ago and my standards are rapidly plummeting in the city's employer-friendly job market? "There was just something about the ad. I couldn't not reply, if that makes sense."

Fern and Ziggy share a smile, and Fern leans forward. "I'm going to say something, and I want you to tell us the first words that come into your mind."

"Word association?"

"Yes! You're sharp." Fern's voice has grown steadily warmer through the interview. She brings her long, blond braid over her shoulder. "Okay. The law of attraction." She spreads her fingers like a slow-motion explosion.

Not this Secret "Law of Attraction" crap again. This is the third interview that's mentioned it. "You attract what you expect."

Ziggy squints. "And what does that mean to you?"

Nothing, because I put so much good out there and life keeps crapping on me but rewarding assholes left, right, and center! "Well." Can I answer this being mostly truthful? "If you go around treating people badly and putting bad energy out there, chances are that's what you're going to draw to yourself."

"Great answer."

Ziggy claps once. "Great answer. Do you have any questions for us?"

How much would you be paying me? "Why did the last receptionist leave?"

"Ah. We're sort of about looking forward, not backward." Fern frowns.

Damn it, I'm losing them. "I totally get that. I just sort of got a weird vibe around the desk when we walked in." In the dark, on a Sunday, in an empty spa.

"Very astute of you." Fern's smile returns. "She wasn't a good fit for us here at Inner Space. Between us, she was putting all kinds of negativity into the place that really messed with the whole business. But she's leaving just as soon as we find her replacement."

Suddenly, the Sunday interview makes sense. "She doesn't know yet?"

Ziggy shakes his head. "We had a talk with her spirit. A real etheric heart-to-heart about where she wanted to be. It wasn't here."

They talked to her spirit? What does that even mean? My mind scrabbles around in the rubble of a few New Age things I've read about and discarded as BS. "Like, astral traveling?"

"Yes!" Fern looks at Ziggy. "She gets it. You know, I'd be happy not looking at any other applicants."

"Are you guys typically closed on the weekends? Isn't that a lot of revenue you're missing out on? Some people can't make it in during the workweek."

Ziggy frowns. "The people who truly need us will find a way to make it happen."

Fern nods. "We pick up so much energy during the week, we need the weekends off to de-stress and clear our fields of any karmic weight that's not ours. Money isn't everything — and we do have a part-time therapist, Blake, who comes in on the weekends for anyone who absolutely can't get in during the week."

"I completely agree," I say, trying to erase the frowns from their faces. "I think it's a brave, admirable choice on your part to eschew the ... rat race." Damn it, I need to learn more New Age terms if I'm going to make it work here. If I get the job.

Fern smiles again. "I think you'll fit in perfectly."

Relief that this might work out actually brings tears to my eyes. In the six weeks I've been unemployed, I've sent out hundreds of résumés and been to thirty unsuccessful interviews. This is my first glimmer of hope. "Really? I would so love to work here. It's such a beautiful place, and it's so peaceful."

"You're so open." Ziggy puts his hands out about three feet from me, palms up. "I get a good vibe from you. You have such a vibrant energy. We wanted someone who wanted to be here, who would be a good fit spiritually. We have a couple more applicants, but we'll give you a call tonight and let you know our decision."

"Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you." I stand and shake their hands before they show me to the door.

* * *

The apartment feels empty when I return from my interview with the hippies.

"Pete?" Silence greets my call, so I relock the door behind me and step inside. Going to the duffel bag in the living room, I find a pair of shorts and a tank top and take them to the bathroom to change, thankful Pete's window-unit air conditioner is strong enough to cut through the sweltering heat. I've been crashing on my best friend Pete's couch since I lost my apartment. While I'd heard that we're all supposed to have a safety net of three months of salary in a savings account, with my student loan payments coming out of my bank account with alarming alacrity every month, I didn't have the chance to create that safety net while I was gainfully employed.

Then I was fired. It was just over six weeks ago, and the way they let me go still makes my face burn with resentment and shame. I'd made it to twenty-five years old without being fired. Technically, I wasn't fired, but whatever the wording, I was still marched from the building, clutching my small box of personal items as though it were a life raft as I sank further and further into my shock.

I savagely pull my dark hair back into a ponytail and scrub the makeup from my face. The worst part was that I was unable to stop the tears. Those bastards saw me cry. The dismissal clause in the contract had been ambiguously worded in their favor, but I'd been so eager to start work for one of the biggest law firms in the city that I'd foolishly signed anyway. I'd been so flattered, thought myself so lucky to find a salary that covered my bills — barely — without having any experience in my field. Fresh from graduation, they snapped me up ... and spat me out six months later.

And I'd gotten such a good feeling from Brenda, the partner who'd hired me — and then fired me. She was sincere when she'd told me that if it were up to her, I'd be staying. She even assured me it had nothing to do with my job performance, as if that would have made me feel better. It hadn't. For whatever reason, the senior partner in the firm had decided he didn't like me, and since his name was above the door, his was the only opinion that mattered. He didn't even fire me himself, just slunk out early that day, trusting that he'd never have to look at my face again. Coward.

But he was right. I'm still unemployed, and he's still rich and powerful and a domineering misogynist with rancid breath. The last of the hopeful buzz from my interview at Inner Space fades away, and I head for the kitchen. The clock on the stove says it's 1:08 p.m. I could eat something for a late lunch, but my stomach is too tense for me to think about food, so I pad over to Pete's desk and turn on his laptop.

My desktop is still packed in a blue plastic tub in a ridiculously overpriced storage facility with the rest of my furniture. Pete's all about aesthetics, and even though mine's a shiny new PC, he wasn't about to let me clutter up his desk with it. I couldn't argue — he's let me stay here for free when I could have been kicked out on the street or, slightly better, been forced to move back in with my parents.

But that would have involved admitting that I'd been fired, which feels like admitting I'm a failure who can't hack it in the corporate world because I'm not ruthless enough — like my dad said — and I can't deal with that right now.

Because an ever-growing part of me suspects it's true.

I type in Pete's password to unlock the laptop and wait while it signs me in. The want ads have been pretty sparse lately, especially now that it's July and students are out of school, sucking up jobs from people like me who need them to pay the bills. The bottom of the Employment Opportunity barrel has become my new stomping ground, but I head for Craigslist, excited to see some new postings have popped up.

My excitement dims considerably as I read the first ad.


Sexy Executive Administrator Wanted

Candidate should be intelligent, organized, efficient, playfully sexy, positive, fun, flirty, and, of course, highly effective in all business tasks required.

Playfully sexy? What the hell?

Interested parties should reply with résumé and a recent photo.

Because looks are crucial in your ability to type eighty words per minute.

Our client is a successful businessman who —

Probably wants to spank the executive assistant over his desk. Yeah, this ad has escort written all over it. No thanks.

The next ad is a more standard one for a switchboard operator/receptionist for a busy company in the energy sector. With each passing week of unemployment, the jobs I'm willing to do have branched out considerably from my field. This posting doesn't list salary, but the company usually pays fairly well, so I quickly send a résumé to the email address they've provided, hoping I'm not the 273rd person to apply. Not my dream job, but at least it doesn't ask for a recent pic and a safe word.

I'm woefully underqualified for the next seven ads, and the following six don't pay enough to sustain me, even though I've lowered the bottom of my pay range a few times in the last three weeks. The next two ads aren't seeking employees — they're advertising a medical office assistant school, which I don't want and can't afford, even if I was interested.

The last new posting is one I replied to and interviewed for three weeks ago. The guy interviewing me stared at my tits the whole time and called me the wrong name while he had my résumé in his hand. They called me for a second interview, but I never replied. I needed a scalding shower after being in his presence for half an hour; I couldn't bear the thought of working as his PA forty hours a week.

For now, my desperation has limits.

Though I should go to another site to look at more job postings, I click back to the main page, needing a pick-me-up. Personals. My heart begins to pound a little, and I throw a look over my shoulder, even though I'm alone. I click on Missed Connections, click forward again, acknowledging I'm over eighteen and blah, blah, blah. Then I'm in, and a rush of anticipation streams through me. Maybe today is the day I'll read a post about myself.

This became a habit of mine shortly after I lost my job. After a particularly long day of poring through postings, I got curious about the Personals section — a place I'd never checked out, assuming they were all generic romance ads. Women seeking men for long walks in the park. Older guys looking for sweet young things to inject a little energy into their lives. If you love piña coladas and hate cats ... But it was nothing like that.

These were things people had written about other people they'd seen in real life! A note to the stranger they'd shared a look or a moment with and wanted to find. God, it was so romantic, I was gripped from the first post I read. I'd had moments with guys. Maybe one of them was my soul mate, and he'd noticed me in the crowd of faceless commuters. Some of the entries were full of poetry and admiration and a hope so raw it took my breath away.

Some were crude, looking for hookups and nothing more, but if my true love is out there, he wouldn't post something like that. Maybe I'm naive to still believe in romance. Maybe love won't find me this way.

But maybe it will.

That hope makes me read through the ads nearly every day, looking for applicable experiences. In my darkest moments, when I'm licking my wounds after another failed day looking for someone who wants me as an employee, I can read these listings and hope to find someone who wants me as their Missed Connection.

When the apartment is empty, of course. Pete would never let me live this down if he knew what I was up to.

Yet another reason I need my own apartment again. Gorging on guilty pleasures isn't as satisfying when you have to keep one ear alert for the sound of your roommate's key in the lock. I scroll down the page to the next ad.


Train Girl

I take trains to interviews sometimes.

I see you every day on the 8th Street platform wearing those killer heels.

Not me, then, since my schedule is all over the place lately and I don't wear heels every day.

I'd love for you to walk all over me with those — Aaand I'm glad that one's not about me. Next.


The One Who Got Away

That could be me. I've loved and lost.

I regret not going with you every day of my life. You had to leave, but I didn't realize that I didn't have to stay. I tore us apart, not you. I've missed you every day for twelve years. I hope you found happiness. xo Cara Not about me, but that's so sad, to pine for someone for twelve years. I wonder why she never went after him, or her. Of course, twelve years ago, the Internet wasn't what it is today. It would have been harder to find someone if they moved away and you didn't have their contact information.

The doorknob rattles, and I jump in my chair and fumble for the mouse, barely getting back to the main page of Craigslist before the door is unlocked and opened.

My heart pounds harder when I realize it isn't Pete.

CHAPTER 2

It's his identical twin brother. Perfect teeth, perfectly tousled light-brown hair, eyebrows that have a devilish arch to them. I always want to nibble the smile from his lips. "Hey, Sarah." Jack's blue eyes light up with the warm smile he shines at me. The tiny mole under the bottom outside corner of his left eye shouldn't be sexy, but it is. "How are you?"

This face is familiar, but Jack affects me so very differently than Pete. Not just because Pete's gay and Jack isn't. How am I? Tingly now that you're here. "I'm good. You?"

"Pretty good." He closes the door behind him, treating me to a nice peek at his tight ass and the strong lines of his back beneath the thin fabric of his T-shirt. God, he has nice shoulders. He pulls the bottom of his T-shirt away from his body and waves it, allowing cool air beneath — and giving me flashes of abs. "Hot out there."

Hot in here now too. "Yeah."

"Pete around?"

Want but can't touch. I wrestle my hormones into submission. "Nope."

"He still at the salon?"

"I'm not sure. He was sleeping when I got up and then gone when I got back from my interview a few minutes ago."

He strides into the galley kitchen and rests a trim hip against the counter. "Had to have been a hair emergency to get him out of bed before noon on a Sunday."

"True."

"How did your interview go?"

I smooth my ponytail in what I hope is a casual manner, feeling self-conscious about my tiny shorts and tank top. "I think it went well, but they said they had a few more applicants to go through. And they're a little strange."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya. Copyright © 2016 Tamara Mataya. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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